BMW (GB) will begin sales of its fifth all-new 5 series range since 1972 on September 18, beginning with the in-line six cylinder 520i (170bhp), 530i (231bhp) and 530d (218bhp diesel) models, all in ‘SE’ trim, writes deputy editor Graeme Roberts.

UK prices (on the road) are £25,455, £30,955 and £30,950 respectively. In October come the £26,955 525i and the V8 range-topping 545i for £41,555.

Standard equipment is pretty generous with all models getting tyre puncture warning, rain sensor, automatic headlights, part-electric seats, auto air con, a colour info display and leather rim steering wheel in addition to a lot of stuff you’d expect in this class in 2003. The 530s add park distance control and metallic paint and there’s an options list as long as your arm, in true BMW style.

The price range, equivalent to $US44,490 to $66,100, seems a bit higher than the ‘official’ BMW pre-launch pricing in the United States, obtained by a consumer website there, which said the six-cylinder 530i will be $44,300 at launch in a month or three while the V8 545i will ‘sticker’ at $54,300. Some US option prices appear cheaper, too.

Both 520i and 530i six-cylinder petrol engines for the UK have BMW’s bi-VANOS valve timing control technology and deliver 0-62 mph (100km/h) acceleration in 9.0 and 6.9 seconds respectively, with the standard six-speed manual transmissions. Six-speed automatic gearboxes are, or soon will be, optional across the range which remains rear-drive in solid BMW tradition.

The second-generation 3.0-litre diesel powering the 530d SE delivers a massive 500 Nm (369 lb-ft) torque at 2,000 rpm – the same as the outgoing M5, in fact.

It can do the 0-62 mph sprint in a claimed 7.1 seconds, 0.7 seconds faster than its predecessor, yet return around 40mpg under the right conditions.

Diesels accounted for 38.8% of the outgoing range’s sales in the UK and the new 530d is so good to drive we’d be surprised if the proportion doesn’t rise, given the tax advantages of its low 184g/km CO2 emissions to company car drivers.

Head-up display becomes optional next year

click image to enlarge

A Europe-wide service and maintenance package is available as an option. Called Service Inclusive (SI), it offers the driver five years or 60,000 miles of maintenance-free ownership for a fixed, one-off £750 payment.

BMW (GB) expects to sell 6,500 units in ’03 and 12-15,000 with the full range in a full year – over 100,000 of the outgoing line have been shifted since 1995, by the way.


Revised iDrive now has menu (Home) button